Germany election: Katya Adler on importance to US and EU
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Germany’s Social Democrats said on Monday they would start the process of trying to forge a three-way alliance and lead a government for the first time since 2005 after they narrowly won Sunday’s national election.
The Social Democrats’ chancellor candidate, Olaf Scholz said he aimed to build a coalition with the Greens and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP), saying Germans had voted to send Angela Merkel’s conservatives into opposition after 16 years in power.
“What you see here is a very happy SPD,” Scholz, 63, told cheering supporters at his party’s headquarters in Berlin, clutching a bunch of red and white flowers.
“The voters have very clearly spoken… They strengthened three parties – the Social Democrats, Greens and FDP – and therefore that is the clear mandate the citizens of this country have given – these three should form the next government.”
The SPD won 25.7 percent of the vote, ahead of 24.1 percent for Merkel’s CDU/CSU conservative bloc, according to provisional results. The Greens came in at 14.8 percent and the FDP were on 11.5 percent.
The result was not particularly welcomed by some French politicians who claimed whoever managed to form a coalition government would simply pursue a continuation of Angela Merkel’s pro-European policies.
UPR leader Francois Asselineau blasted: “No matter the coalition in Germany, it will be Europeanists who will pursue the same EU policy as Merkel.
“There will perhaps be more punitive ecology and more rigour requested from the ECB. Nothing good for France.”
Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois echoed: “Germany will continue to defend its interests in the EU and will use the so-called Franco-German partnership, a toxic relationship to say the least, to rip apart our space and defence industries in the name of the European Union!
“Our naive elites will continue to accept it.”
The SPD’s recovery marks a tentative revival for centre-left parties in parts of Europe, following the election of Democrat Joe Biden as US president in 2020.
Norway’s centre-left opposition party also won an election earlier this month.
Scholz, who was finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing ‘grand coalition’, said on Sunday he hoped to agree a coalition before Christmas. But his Christian Democrat rival Armin Laschet, 60, said he could still try to form a government despite leading the conservatives to their worst ever election result.
Merkel, who did not seek a fifth term as chancellor, will stay on in a caretaker role during the coalition negotiations that will set the future course of Europe’s largest economy.
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The parties will start sounding each other out today about possible alliances in informal discussions.
The Greens and FDP said late on Sunday they would first talk to each other to seek areas of compromise before starting negotiations with either the SPD or the conservatives.
If Scholz succeeds in forming a coalition, the former mayor of Hamburg would become only the fourth post-World War Two SPD chancellor and the first since Merkel took over from Gerhard Schroeder in 2005.
Merkel has stood large on the European stage since then – when George W. Bush was US President, Jacques Chirac was French leader and Tony Blair the British Prime Minister.
But Berlin’s allies in Europe and beyond will probably have to wait months before they can see how the new German government will engage on international issues.
Assuming Scholz can agree a deal with the Greens and the FDP, the Greens could provide the foreign minister, as they did with Joschka Fischer in their previous two-way alliance with the SPD, while the FDP has its eyes on the finance ministry.
A row between Washington and Paris over a deal for Australia to buy US instead of French submarines has put Germany in an awkward spot between allies, but also gives Berlin a chance to heal relations and help rethink a common Western stance on China.
On economic policy, French President Emmanuel Macron is eager to forge a common European fiscal policy, which the Greens support but the CDU/CSU and FDP reject. The Greens also want “a massive expansion offensive for renewables”.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega
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